He Did It !
All good things must come to an end, and so did this epic journey through the Baltics and Scandinavia, culminating in a remarkable finale in Oslo.
As spectators gathered beside the serene Oslo Fjord, near the striking Operahuset, they beheld an extraordinary sight: a man reclining on an unusual contraption known as a handcycle. He was met by a close-knit group of friends who watched in awe as he embarked on a victory lap, navigating the Carrara marble facade of the Oslo Opera & Ballet House. The crowd witnessed heartwarming reunions, hearty handshakes, and a flurry of cameras capturing this momentous occasion.
For those perusing our blog, the well-documented route, overnight halts, and distances covered are evident.
Yet, beneath the surface lies the tremendous effort invested in this endeavor, both physically and mentally, by every team member. Ajmal Samuel has frequently emphasized his indebtedness to his unwavering support system, his wife Carol, and his dedicated team members Mark Berger, Rimintas Navickus, and yours truly. The enormity of the past 50 days will take weeks, if not months, to fully comprehend. The data of perceptions, sights, sounds, emotions, conversations, and thoughts collected along this epic odyssey presents a daunting mental landscape to navigate. Memories, a blend of visual and emotional stimuli, trigger corresponding feelings, creating a complex web of recollections.
Team leader. Inspiration leader. Extreme endurance athlete. And one amazing guy!
The trip in Ajmal's words;
"Reflecting on the past 45 days feels like stepping into the surreal. What commenced as a bold venture into the demanding realm of long-distance endurance hand cycling, driven by the singular goal of conquering the iResolve challenge, gradually transformed into a profound philosophical odyssey.
This metamorphosis steered me toward an alternate form of indulgence: a deep immersion in the captivating tapestry of the journey and the kaleidoscope of landscapes I traversed. Each place, with its unique character, kindled profound contemplations about my connection to this land and its intricate dance with the monumental undertaking I had embraced. The result was a profound sense of understanding, unveiling my place within the ecosystem, which, in comparison to the colossal task at hand, seemed almost infinitesimal. This newfound perspective became my lodestar, fueling my unwavering determination.
As we edge closer to our destination, it becomes unmistakable that one chapter is drawing to a close. Yet, the wealth of wisdom gathered on this expedition stands poised to usher in fresh beginnings, laying the foundation for the transformative journey of life—a concept akin to the true essence of spring.
In the embrace of this expedition, I gleaned priceless lessons, both pragmatic and philosophical, poised to light the path in forthcoming challenges and adventures. This carries profound significance, for it is within these lessons that we plant the seeds of change, enriching the tapestry of our life's voyage".
Love & Caring department. Hotel reservations guru. Catering and logistics maestro.
The trip in Carol's words;
"The journey is always painful. The daily itinerary is tight, the journey is long, the wind is heavy, the rain is heavy, the cold, the fatigue, the eyesight, and the whole body aches. Complaining about the companions, losing temper with others, and falling off the filming stage also happen from time to time. But the last few days of every trip will definitely be the saddest, because you will see the joy of your hometown, and the companions you have been with day and night will part ways, and the contrasting emotional ups and downs are always the saddest. And every time I recall the human touch of a certain chapter and every place, I will be glad that I did not give up halfway, and be proud of being able to reach the finish line and complete the feat with my partners"
Yorkshire England/ Hong Kong
Driver. Transport and logistics. Loading and safety officer.
The trip in Mark's words;
"Aye Lads n Lassies,
It's been right grand it 'as,
We bin up hill 'n down dale following them crazy pillocks on bicycles & handbicycles!
AJ, he's done almost a million cranks on that machine!
By Gum! if he'd bin a washing machine he'd be due for a good o'l lube n service! - Mek of that what you will!
That poor van, mind you I don't know why they all insisted on calling it a car, I was always afraid it would break down in revenge at the insult! yet it's been just a champion!
We bin to some fantastic places you would never imagine & certainly many you never can pronounce!
And we met some fine folk, some wanted to talk to us & some not - well, I guess them foreign folk can be a bit shy sometimes.
We ad some of that fine foreign food n all! - some days we ad pizza, some we ad burgers & others we ad kebabas! even ad fish n chips on occasion!
Well I don't know what else to tell you c'ept if yer ever want to travel, best get on & do it soon."
Translation. Impossible :-)
Videographer. Route master. Drone pilot. Chief motivator and communications specialist. Mediator. Body guard. Strong man.
In trip in Rimintas's words;
"Kai prieš kelis mėnesius Ajmal Samuel susisiekė ir paklausė - gal kas galėtų padėti jam suplanuoti kelionę aplink Baltijos šalis, net minties nebuvo, kad aš joje pats asmeniškai sudalyvausiu kaip komandos narys, o tuo labiau, minsiu plentinį dviratį beveik porą tūkstančių kilometrų.
Visa tai įvyko. Rašau apie Ajmal įveiktą iššūkį lėktuve, skrisdamas link namų, palikęs Norvegijoje komandos narius - draugus. Komanda atliko savo misiją, visi kartu ir kiekvienas atsirai :) Jau artėjant prie tikslo, kilo toks palyginimas - Ajmal Samuel, kaip knygnešys mūsuose, tik vietoj knygos jis visą kelionės laiką. per visas šalis nešė ir su neblėstančiu nuoširdumu dalinosi paprasta ir aiškia žinia - tu gali. Papildant, tinka čia, manau, A. Einšteino citata
"Laikas bei erdvė yra mūsų mąstymo būdai, o ne sąlygos, kuriose mes gyvename."
"Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live."
Esu dėkingas Viešpačiui, kad suteikė man galimybę prisidėti prie Ajmal Samuel iššūkio išpildymo. Didelis ačiū, Ajmal, tau, tavo gyvenimo bendražygei - Carol už išskirtinį rūpestį ir dėmesį man ir kiekvienam komandos nariui. Savo ruoštu aš prisidėjau prie kelionės misijos tuo, ką geriausiai moku.
Iš viso sukurta trumpų dokumentinių video - 24 (Short documentary series)
3.2TB vaizdo medžiagos (video footage).
20km nuskrista dronu (distance flown with the drone).
Apie 10.000 vaizdo peržiūrų soc tinkluose (around 10.000 video views in social media platforms)
280val. praleistų gryname ore (total hours spent in the open air).
Pagerintas fizinio pasirengimolygmuo (upgraded fitness level)
Iki minimumo sumažintas skrolinimas (reduced to minimum media scrolling)
Ir ačiū Carol už man suteiktą pseudonimą :) (and thank you Carol for my new nickname ;) )
"When Ajmal Samuel contacted me a few months ago and asked if anyone could help him plan a trip around the Baltic countries, I had no idea that I would personally participate in it as a team member, and even more so, I would ride a road bike for almost a couple of thousand kilometers.
All this happened. I write about Ajmal's challenge on the plane, flying home, leaving behind his team members - friends - in Norway.
The team accomplished its mission, everyone was together and everyone showed up :) As we were approaching the goal, the following comparison arose
Ajmal Samuel is like a bookseller in ours, only instead of a book he has the whole journey. Carried and shared with unfading sincerity a simple and clear message - you can.
In addition, I think A. Einstein's quote is appropriate here;
"Time and space are our ways of thinking, not the conditions in which we live."
"Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live."
I am grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Ajmal Samuel challenge. A big thank you, Ajmal, to you, to your life partner - Carol, for your exceptional care and attention to me and every member of the team. In my preparation, I contributed to the mission of the trip with what I do best.
-A total of short documentary videos created - 24 (Short documentary series)
-3.2TB of video footage.
-20km flown with the drone (distance flown with the drone).
-Around 10,000 video views in social networks (around 10,000 video views in social media platforms)
-280 hours spent in the open air (total hours spent in the open air).
-Upgraded fitness level
-Reduced to minimum media scrolling
And thank you Carol for my new nickname :) "
Richard Mark Dobson
Yorkshire England / Malaysia
Not so official photographer. Sometimes videographer. Green E-biker. Writer of facts and some fiction. Gloves department. Always last in for coffee stops (due to photography responsibilities).
In trip in Richard's words;
"When I first heard about Ajmal Samuel, intrigue doesn't quite capture it; I was thoroughly fascinated. The description came from my dear friend, Dhanada Mishra, who casually mentioned a 'successful Hong Kong businessman, an extreme athlete, oh, and by the way, he's in a wheelchair, with big adventures on the horizon. He's on the lookout for a photographer to document his journeys, are you interested?'
My response was a resounding 'YESSSSSS,' and it took me less than a second to utter it.
From there, a meeting was arranged. My first encounter with Ajmal Samuel revealed a man who was not as imposing as I had imagined. While undeniably strong and solid, he exuded a fresh-faced, youthful demeanor at 58. His disposition was relaxed, easygoing, frequently punctuated by a warm smile. In conversation, he engaged directly, modestly, and kindly, listening intently to what others had to say. It was clear that he approached everything he did with a drive to excel, both in business and in sports. Simply put, he was a pleasure to be around, a kind and generous individual.
There's no need for me to delve deeply into his journey or his accomplishments, as I've had the privilege of being the photographer and author behind the past 20 blogs featured on his website and social media. I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about this remarkable man and his sensational exploits to immerse themselves in the content available on his personal site here or explore his Ajmal Samuel Foundation website. https://www.ajmalsamuelfoundation.com/
In summary, the past 50 days have constituted an epic chapter for me and the entire team. Slowly cycling through the Baltics and Scandinavia has been an enchanting, challenging, fulfilling, and thoroughly enjoyable adventure. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been a part of this epic journey, tagging along to absorb the sights and sounds, and, in my role, simply tasked with keeping up with the party and capturing the moments through my lens. Time and time again, I've had to pinch myself, thinking, I have the best job in the world."
Total number of photographs taken. 15,787
As the author and photographer tasked with chronicling this journey through words and images, my recollections may be more vivid, but each team member has played a vital role in this grand tapestry. We have ample cause for celebration, as Ajmal Samuel not only talked the talk but also walked the walk.
Our endeavors were further crowned with a delightful golden trophy, courtesy of the gracious Ms. Carol Cheung.
Carol Cheung is the trophy master. Everyone was thrilled with their surprise trophies. This author especially as this is the first and probably the last trophy he will ever get. :-)
The last great interview of the trip between Ajmal Samuel and Rimintast Navickas, Room 401, Scandic Oslo City.
Ultimately, the true joy resides in the smaller, delightful details, and here they are;
Total distance: 2,525Km
Total time biked: 156:10.08 hrs
Total climbing done: 15,109 Meters
Total revolutions Ajmal's arm cranked: around 900,000
Total days biked: 34
Total days on the road: 47 days
Hotel: 37 days
Camp site/service apartment: 8 days
Guest house: 1 day
Coffee for the road: 2-3L/day. 100L approximate.
Coffee from other coffee stop: lost count.
Snackers: small bar 150 pcs at least.
Meal made from Carol private kitchen: minimum 20 meals include breakfast😉
Total number of photographs taken. 15,787
TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: 2,525 Km (9th October 2023)
Day 47. Kløfta to Oslo 38.33km
Day 46. Strommen to Kløfta 69.97km
Day 45 -Rana to Tangen 74.29km
Day 44 -Åkrestrømmen to Rana 70.65km
Day 43 -Rest Day. Åkrestrømmen Rendalen
Day 42 -Tynset to Åkrestrømmen Rendalen 74.66km
Day 41-Berkak to Tynset 93.06km
Day 40 -Trondheim to Berkak 72.58km
Day 39 -Rest Day. Trondheim
Day 38 -Sticklestad to Trondheim 95.50km
Day 37 -Kvam to Sticklestad 56.46km
Day 36 -Harran to Steinkjer 71.98km
Day 35 -Namsskogen to Harran 61.60km
Day 34 -Mosjoen to Namsskogen (Car)
Day 33 -Rest day Mosjoen
Day 32 -Nensa to Mosjoen 70km
Day 31 -Mo I Rana to Nensa 66.45Km
Day 30 -Rest day Mo I Rana
Day 29 -Meravan to Mo I Rana 98.01km
Day 28 -Slussfors to Hermavan 85.17km
Day 27 -Storuman to Slussfors. 62.00km
Day 26 -Lycksele to Storuman 102.9km
Day 25 -Vindeln to Lycksele 75.75 km
Day 24 -Holmsund to Vindeln 75.7km
Day 23 -Vaasa to Holmsund (Ferry Ride)
Day 22 -Rest day Vaasa
Day 21- Rest day Vaasa
Day 20 -Narpes to Vaasa 79.8km
Day 19- Merikarvia to Närpes 93.76 km
Day 18 -Pori to Merikarvia 52.8km
Day 17- Rauma to Pori 57.9km
Day 16 -Uusikaupunki to Rauma 47.4km
Day 15 -Turku to Uusikaupunki 73.5km
Day 14 -Helsinki to Turku (Car)
Day 13 -Tallin to Helsinki (Ferry ride)
Day 12- Tallin Rest & Recharge
Day 11- Märjamaa to Tallin 72.17
Day 10 -Pärnu linn to Märjamaa 64.1km
Day 9- Pärnu Rest & Recharge
Day 8 - Salacgriva to Pärnu 75km
Day 7 - Riga to Salacgriva 104.4km
Day 6 - Riga Rest and Recharge
Day 5 - Plieņciema kāpa to Riga 60.14Km
Day 4 - Kuldiga to Plieņciema kāpa 108.59Km
Day 3 - Liepāja to Kuldīga 97.34Km
Day 2 - Sventājato Liepāja 62.11Km
Day 1 - Klaipeda to Sventāja 42.89Km
ASF has carefully chosen Resolve to be the beneficiary for 2023: Resolve is a charity founded in 2017 that helps create change makers in our community to drive a more inclusive city. Their signature program is a Fellowship that has so far supported over 70 emerging community leaders from diverse walks of life. There have been five cohorts of the fellowship on racial equality, ending gender-based violence, disABILITIES and empowerment, wellbeing and health and (E)quality Education for all.
Visit the following URL in order to support the "I Resolve Challenge" and visit the following URL in order to support the "I Resolve Challenge" and give: